There is an overwhelming amount of information and advice available about what you should and shouldn’t be doing when it comes to searching for a job. Below are the top 5 myths we’ve busted to help keep you motivated and on the right track.
Myth 1: If I'm the right person for the job, I'll get through
These days, more and more online recruitment is processed via an automated tracking system (ATS). When you submit an application, there is no guarantee that you'll get through the screening process - even if you have the best qualifications and experience for the job. You need to make sure your resume and cover letters are of a high standard, properly address the eligibility criteria, and are attractively presented.
It can also help to incorporate keywords into your cover letter that the employer emphasised in the job description. For example, if keywords such as ‘Microsoft Word proficiency’, ‘Time Management skills’ and ‘Communications skills’ were in the job description, and you include them in your application, the computer software the employer may be using to track applications will likely prioritise your resume and cover letter for further review.
Myth 2: I'll get a response to every application
Once upon a time, job seekers often received a response to their job applications – either with an invitation for an interview, or a polite explanation as to why they were not selected.
Unfortunately, that doesn't happen very often anymore. Most hiring managers only contact those people who are selected for an interview. So the truth is, you're probably not going to get any feedback from your initial application unless you follow up with the hiring manager yourself in the right way – politely, and at the right time. This is usually around a week after the applications closing date. If there is no response, try again a week later and ask if it’s possible to get feedback on your application if you weren’t selected. If still no answer, move on to your next job opportunity. You don't want to waste your time.
Myth 3: The hiring manager will be able to work out that I am the best person for the job
If your cover letter and resume don't show how your skills and experience match the selection criteria for the job, the hiring manager won't have a clue that you are the best fit for the job. You must make sure your resume is up-to-date, and that you explain, with examples from previous work or volunteer experience, how and why you are best suited to that particular position.
It can be useful to read aloud changes you’ve made in your resume and cover letter. This can help clarify how your application may come across to another person who is reading it. If possible, ask family or friends to read your application as well so they can provide their thoughts or perspectives before you submit it.
Myth 4: My passion for the job will outweigh my lack of qualifications
Be realistic about your skills and experience. Dreaming of a particular job being perfect for you, and finding the one you’ve always wanted, doesn't mean you’ll automatically get it.
If you only slightly fall short of the minimum requirements, you could still put in an application. Emphasising your interest, enthusiasm and willingness to learn can sometimes help make up for lack of skill, qualification or experience.
However, if you are a long way off the minimum requirements, it’s unlikely you’ll get to the interview stage. If this is the case, consider phoning or emailing the hiring manager to see if you should submit an application (be honest about your experience). Ask if you can submit a general application which highlights your enthusiasm and asks to be considered for other jobs that may come up in the future.
Keep a positive attitude and try to convey your enthusiasm for the role through your application. If you’re not suitable for the current role advertised, the employer may want to keep you in mind for alternative roles that may soon become available.
Myth 5: If I'm meant to get it, I'll get it
You can't rely on fate to get you a job. You need to put in the effort and be persistent.
- Make sure you research every company you apply to.
- Prepare your cover letter and resume very carefully. Put time and effort into each and every submission. Make sure it is well presented with no spelling errors, and that it directly answers the selection criteria.
Always consider contacting the hiring manager via phone or email. This can help you make a good impression but remember that they might be busy. Email can be handy, as it allows them to answer in their own time and for you to prepare something in advance. If you don’t hear from someone, it might be an indication that you aren’t qualified for the role. If you do hear back, always respond and thank them for their time, regardless of the outcome.
Job hunting can be a challenging process. But if you ignore the myths and set realistic expectations for your search, you'll be able to focus your time using better ways to get noticed, get interviews, and get the job you've dreamed of. But it won't just happen. You have to make it happen.
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Last reviewed 18 May 2021.